It's no secret Andrew Maraniss is one of my favorite sports authors, and one that I have a great respect for(not just because we both live and die by the Green Bay Packers). The New York Times bestselling author released his eagerly anticipated new book in November 2019 called Games of Deception: The True Story of the First U.S. Olympic Basketball Team at the 1936 Olympics in Hitler's Germany Since I've been on a small hiatus(has anyone even noticed?!), I'm going 'Beast Mode" and returning to the game in style by writing about a guy I consider one of the best at his craft.
Games of Deception, while centered on the historic 1936 Olympic basketball team, is so much more than that. The book provides context into James Naismith and the genesis of basketball itself, background of the buildup going into these Hitler Olympics in both America and abroad, and the social, political, and competitive backdrop in Germany and America surrounding the 1936 Olympic Games.
Games of Deception, much like the first Maraniss title Strong Inside, weaves sports, history, and culture together with seamless effort in his trademark descriptive journalistic style. It is the second book that Maraniss has done in a YA format, and one that I feel earns him a spot as one of the top voices in young adult nonfiction sports literature today, along with authors like Steve Sheinken, Phil Hoose, Howard Bryant.
It's hard to underestimate the impact a book like Games of Deception can have on a generation of youth who have grown rather complacent to the catastrophic political events of the past, and rather apathetic to the current dangerous political climate. While some like to argue that sports and politics should hold their own courts, books like Games show that sports and society are indeed closely connected, and when used properly, sports can be a great tool to raise awareness to current social and political issues.
In Games of Deception and Strong Inside, Maraniss has purposely chosen to take his message to a group most in need--our youth. And what better way than to speak to teens than through sports. I've worked with young adults as a teacher, librarian, and coach for the past 30 years; it takes a special type to pull this off. It takes a special kind of author to understand how to write for a teen. I can tell you for sure that Games of Deception is great book. But I'd rather talk use this space to highlight what Maraniss does in Games (and Strong Inside) that makes him a key voice for the younger generation .
So you need to get Games of Deception in your library now. Show it to your social studies and English teachers, it would be a great curriculum addition. Now more than ever, we need to have authors that focus on connecting with the younger generation and raising awareness to what's going on in the world today. These are scary and uncertain times in more than one way, Maraniss and his works have become the perfect model to cut through all the deception.